Officials create team to assess oil spill damage

DAGUPAN CITY, March 1 (PIA) — Officials have formed a team to assess the damage caused by the oil seepage which is suspected to have leaked from a sunken Myanmar vessel off the coast of Bolinao on February 17.

The Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said the team will also trace the origin of the oil spill which has spread on the shores of La Union, Ilocos Sur, and Ilocos Norte.

Avenix Arenas, PDRRMC spokesman, however, said the team’s final composition will still be approved by Governor Amado Espino whose office is currently working on putting together an action plan to address the sea disaster.

“We have to look into the effects and the extent of the oil spill especially now that we have received a gale warning (or abnormal weather conditions),” Arenas said.

Officials fear that unusual sea weather conditions could cause the slick to spread further.

The team will be composed of personnel from the municipal DRRMC, Office of the Provincial Agriculturist, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Philippine National Police and Philippine Navy, among others.

Earlier reports said the Myanmar vessel MV Harita Bauxite sank some 50 miles off the Bolinao coast nearly two weeks ago after developing engine trouble. Officials and residents suspected that the oil spill could have come from the sunken vessel.

But Melchito Castro, Office of Civil Defense regional director, said the oil spill could have likewise been caused by other vessels that passed through the Bolinao waters.

Meanwhile, Arenas said the search and rescue operations for the Myanmar vessel’s missing crewmen have shifted to retrieval operations.

Reports reaching the council said one of the ship’s crewmen died, nine others survived, while 14 others are missing.

Arenas said fishermen and vessels en route to where the ship sank were alerted for possible sighting of the missing crewmen. (MCA/VHS-PIA1, Pangasinan) – See more at: http://www.pia.gov.ph/news/index.php?article=411362041960#sthash.FPQ5PMRi.dpuf

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